Cake flour makes these Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes exceptionally soft, exactly what you want when you bite into a cupcake. The canned pure pumpkin and vegetable oil used in the batter give the cupcakes a moistness reminiscent of a pumpkin muffin, but the tenderness of the crumb is unmistakably that of a cupcake. Rather than using 5 different spices to flavor the cake, we only call for cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice because the blend of spices used to make pumpkin pie spice is all that's needed to achieve the right taste. Sitting atop each cupcake is a tangy pumpkin frosting packed with cream cheese and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe is written in such a way that you will use an entire 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin between the cupcake batter and pumpkin frosting, ensuring that you don't waste a bit of the pumpkin you buy. Separately, each component is delicious, but together, the cupcakes and the pumpkin frosting come together into something irresistible.

Micah A Leal


Credit: Micah A. Leal

Recipe Summary test

50 mins
1 hr 15 mins
24 cupcakes


Pumpkin Frosting


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pan with paper linings. Set aside.

  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar and oil until incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat on medium-high until satiny, about 3 minutes. Add pumpkin and beat to combine. Add half of the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated and no pockets of dry ingredients remain.

  • Divide batter evenly among 24 cupcake liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until the surface is domed and lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before making Pumpkin Frosting.

  • Make Pumpkin Frosting: Beat together cream cheese and butter until completely combined, about 2 minutes. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pumpkin, and mix on medium until there is no more separation between pumpkin and cream cheese mixture, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and carefully stir mixture on low until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until lightened and glossy, about 4 minutes. Spread or pipe Pumpkin Frosting onto cooled cupcakes.